The Federal Court has dismissed an application by Specsavers, relating to its complaints about a consumer ratings survey of optometrists, released by Canstar Blue.
In August and September this year, a Canstar Blue survey compared optometrist satisfaction ratings by Australians across price, service, after sale service, range, accessibility of store and overall satisfaction.
The survey was conducted after interviewing 2,500 people. Budget Eyewear, Optical Superstore, Laubman and Pank, OPSM and Just Spectacles were all named rating highly in the survey.
Specsavers applied for access to Canstar documents relating to the survey, alleging it was concerned that there may be “significant defects and inaccuracies in the methodology, approach and ratings by Canstar” which may mean the results reported were “inaccurate or misleading”.
If Specsavers genuinely believes that it is misleading and deceptive conduct to: (1) say that visits over the last two years are ‘recent’; or (2) publish survey results in respect of a business which is building its store numbers; then Specsavers has the relevant information now and can commence proceedings
When Canstar refused to produce the documents, Specsavers applied to the Federal Court for preliminary discovery of various documents.
In a judgement handed down in October, the Hon. Justice Richard Edmonds dismissed the Specsaver application.
Specsaver had argued Canstar had described the survey as representing the views of people who had ‘recently’ visited their optometrist, when it actually covered people who had visited an optometrist in the previous two years.
Specsavers also claimed the survey was misleading and deceptive and that not all of its stores were open two years ago.
But Justice Edmonds rejected the arguments, saying that the “evidence does not incline the mind to a belief there has been a contravention of the TPA (Trade Practices Act).
“If Specsavers genuinely believes that it is misleading and deceptive conduct to: (1) say that visits over the last two years are ‘recent’; or (2) publish survey results in respect of a business which is building its store numbers; then Specsavers has the relevant information now and can commence proceedings,” Justice Edmonds said
Justice Edmonds dismissed the application for discovery of documents, ordering Specsavers to pay costs.